The Tradition of Drinking Milk Before Bed and How It Works
Everyone had experienced finding it difficult to fall asleep after a long and hard day. Although you feel exhausted, you just can’t put your mind to rest and go to sleep. In such cases, there is always this one solution that comes to your mind. It’s a thing that your mom taught you, drink a glass of milk. But why is this dairy product so efficient at helping you relax and get some shut-eye? Various studies suggest that consumption of dairy products before bed may boost your night’s sleep (4, 7, 9). Many experts state that such an effect of milk is most likely linked to its chemical composition. The psychological aspect is also believed to be one of the reasons for such a soothing and relaxing effect of milk (12). Although it may work as a natural sleeping remedy, for some people the most important question is the following: “Is drinking milk before bed good for weight loss?”. If you are one of those people and want to know the answer to such questions as: “Does drinking milk before bed affect your weight?”, “Is drinking milk at night good or bad?”, and “What to drink to sleep faster?”, then read on!
Is Drinking Milk Before Bed Good for Weight Loss?
Milk is a dairy product, and it is packed with nutrients and relatively rich in calories. Like in the case of any other type of food, the most important thing here is the correlation between those nutrients and calories. In other words, to answer the question, “Is drinking milk before bed good for weight loss?”, you need to figure out whether the calories in milk come from essential nutrients and healthy components, or their unhealthy counterparts. So, let’s take a look at the nutritional value of milk first.
Nutritional Value of Milk
As you already know, there are various types of milk nowadays, so even lactose-intolerant people can enjoy a glass of almond, oat, soy, coconut, or any other type of milk in their milkshake, with cereal, or before bed (2). The main focus of this article, however, is a cow’s milk, which can also be of different types. So, here is the nutritional value of an 8-oz (226g) glass of whole milk with 3.25% fat (11):
- Calories: 148.8
- Protein: 7.68 g
- Fats: 7.96 g
- Carbohydrates: 11.68 g
As this article also focuses on weight loss, it is only natural to consider low-fat milk. So, here is the nutritional value of an 8-oz (226g) glass of low-fat milk (10):
- Calories: 97
- Protein: 7.86 g
- Fats: 2.19 g
- Carbohydrates: 11.23 g
As you can see, milk is quite healthy, because unlike the sugary drinks, instead of providing you with empty calories, it offers your body a great variety of essential nutrients.
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What are the Health Benefits of Drinking Milk Before Bed?
Now, to figure out the answer to the question, “Is drinking milk at night good or bad?”, first you need to understand what’s the overall health benefits of drinking milk. So, here are the main benefits of drinking milk before bed and in general (14):
May help you fall asleep
One of the main reasons why people drink milk before bed is because it may help you fall asleep easier and faster. As was mentioned earlier, this may happen due to its certain components. For example, tryptophan, which occurs in various protein-containing foods, is an amino acid, which plays a significant role in the production of serotonin (3). That neurotransmitter, in turn, improves your mood, induces relaxation, and acts as a precursor in the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. This hormone helps regulate your circadian rhythm and prepare your body for sleep. Studies show that taking melatonin and tryptophan supplements may boost your sleep and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression that occur at bedtime, thus potentially aiding in sleep disorders (1).
Can help you keep hunger pangs at bay
The factor that promotes a positive inclination in the answer to the question “Is drinking milk before bed good for weight loss?” is its protein contents. When you are on a strict diet, and oftentimes feel hungry when you go to bed, you may find it difficult to fall asleep. It is only natural, as those horrible hunger pangs keep you awake, and invite thoughts about the food that is left in the fridge into your head. And that is when a glass of milk may come to rescue. It is filled with protein, which prolongs the feeling of fullness and helps you keep those hunger pangs and food cravings at bay.
Adds to bone health
It is general knowledge that calcium promotes bone health. It is an essential nutrient for strong teeth, bones, muscle movement, and nerve signals. Experts recommend consuming enough of this nutrient, to prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures. And milk is a great source of calcium (5). You can often find fortified milk, which due to the addition of vitamin D, is even more beneficial for your bones.
Although calcium is necessary for the healthy bones, there are disputes, whether milk is really the best source of that micronutrient.
May improve cardiovascular health
Another essential nutrient found in milk is potassium. It can help the blood vessels dilate and reduce blood pressure. Moreover, by accompanying your potassium consumption with the reduction of sodium (salt) intake, you may lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. The recommended daily requirement for potassium is 3400 mg in men and 2600 mg in women.
Although milk is a great source of heart-beneficial potassium, it also contains saturated fat and cholesterol, which are the opposite, and may increase the chance of cardiovascular disease. That is why it is recommended that you consume dairy in moderation.
May protect against cancer
As you already know, milk contains calcium and vitamin D, but what you perhaps didn’t know is that these two nutrients not only improve your bone health but may also help protect against cancer.
Consumption of calcium has been linked to the reduced risk of colon cancer or rectum cancer, due to its ability to protect the gut lining. However, you should remember that everything is good in moderation, and too much calcium may lead to prostate cancer.
Vitamin D might take part in the process of cell growth regulation. It may lower the chance of colon cancer, and possibly prostate and breast cancer. However, as with calcium, some research shows that vitamin D levels were linked to an increased risk of pancreatic cancer.
May help you fight depression
Proper levels of vitamin D support the production of serotonin, which is responsible for your mood, sleep, and appetite. Research shows that there is a link between vitamin D deficiency and clinical depression (13). So, by drinking enough milk, you may be able to add to the production of serotonin, thus fighting depression.
Downsides of Drinking Milk Before Bed
Although there are numerous benefits of drinking milk before bed, it may be not the best option for you, as it may also have the following downsides:
“Lactose” – this word is a curse for people who are lactose intolerant, and according to data, around 30-50 million Americans are estimated to have this condition (8). For those people, consuming milk before going to bed may turn their night into a literal nightmare with diarrhea, gas, bloating, cramps, and many other unpleasant, to say the least, symptoms.
It was mentioned before that drinking a glass of milk before sleep may prevent hunger pangs and thus reduce food cravings, but you should not forget that milk, unlike water or tea, is relatively rich in calories. If you follow a diet that limits your caloric intake, you may be disappointed to find out that a cup of milk adds 149 calories to your diet. And as your metabolism slightly slows down as you sleep, those calories are a bit more difficult to burn. So, if you aim at slimming down and don’t want to sacrifice anything from your current diet, you may want to reconsider your bedtime routines.
A warm glass of milk may be a great sleep remedy, but it does not have a great impact on your liver. At night your liver is busy detoxing your body by clearing off various junk, and milk might interfere with that process by giving it something else to process instead. So, if you want your liver to work properly, you may want to avoid drinking milk or consuming anything with calories before bed.
Is Drinking Milk Before Bed Good For Weight Loss: To Drink or Not to Drink?
Now that you know all the benefits and risks of drinking milk before bed, it is time to answer the main question: Is drinking milk before bed good for weight loss, and should you do it? And the answer is, it completely depends on what your priorities are. If your main target right now is weight loss, and your diet doesn’t allow any dairy or you can’t consume milk because it will surpass your allowed daily caloric intake, then you should better drink a glass of water instead. The same goes for intermittent fasting. If you stick to the rules of intermittent fasting, and you want to drink milk before going to bed, which is not a part of your eating window, then it is recommended that you avoid it.
However, if you follow a less strict diet, prioritize your rest, and have experienced that drinking milk before bed really helps you doze off faster, then you may want to resort to that method, despite those additional calories. Just remember that too much is never good for you, especially if you are trying to lose weight, so it is better to keep it rather occasional than regular.
If you can’t fall asleep without a glass of milk, try meditation and relaxation techniques. They may help you clear your mind of annoying thoughts and bring you one step closer to sleep.
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What to Drink Before Bed?
If you feel like milk helps you fall asleep just because it became a habit to drink something warm and mellow before bed, then you may be glad to find out that there are some options of low-calorie drinks that help you sleep without wrecking your dieting efforts. Here is what to drink to sleep faster (6):
- Chamomile tea
- Valerian tea
- Lavender tea
- Magnolia bark tea
- Decaffeinated green tea
- Cherry juice
Is Drinking Milk Before Bed Good For Weight Loss: Conclusion
Milk is the first food that mammals consume when they are born. The milk that you now drink is packed with various essential nutrients and was probably used as a sleep remedy, at least once in your life. But is drinking milk before bed good for weight loss? Although there are numerous benefits of drinking milk, including its ability to induce sleep and keep your hunger at bay, it is not calorie-free, and regular consumption of this dairy product may disrupt your attempts to lose weight. If you want to trim a couple of inches, but also feel like you need something to help you fall asleep, you may try meditation. There also are some other options such as herbal and green decaffeinated tea, which are very low in calories but quite effective at helping you slim down and relax.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- A review of sleep disorders and melatonin (2017, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Almond, hemp, oat, soy, and cow’s milk: Which is best? (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Analysis, Nutrition, and Health Benefits of Tryptophan (2018, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Association between difficulty initiating sleep in older adults and the combination of leisure-time physical activity and consumption of milk and milk products: a cross-sectional study (2014, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Calcium: What’s Best for Your Bones and Health? (n.d., hsph.harvard.edu)
- Drinks that help you fall asleep: 10 options (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Effect of milk-honey mixture on the sleep quality of coronary patients: A clinical trial study (2018, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Lactose Intolerance: Information for Health Care Providers (2006, nichd.nih.gov)
- Milk Collected at Night Induces Sedative and Anxiolytic-Like Effects and Augments Pentobarbital-Induced Sleeping Behavior in Mice (2015, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Milk, lowfat, fluid, 1% milkfat, with added nonfat milk solids, vitamin A and vitamin D (2019, fdc.nal.usda.gov)
- Milk, whole, 3.25% milkfat, with added vitamin D (2019, fdc.nal.usda.gov)
- Should You Drink Milk Before Bed? (2020, healthline.com)
- Vitamin D and Depression: A Critical Appraisal of the Evidence and Future Directions (2020, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- What to know about milk (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)